Steve Dalachinsky, the great jazz scene poet, the last of the beat poets, a great poet in his own right, died last week. As something of a symbol of his life, he caught the Sun Ra Arkestra then gave a reading before he was felled by a massive stroke. He died with his wife in attendance and his favorite jazz and doo-wop music playing alongside.
I had the great pleasure of working with him for the previous six years—doesn’t seem that long, but that was a lot of time and a lot of fun—editing him at the Brooklyn Rail, listening to his readings on our podcast recordings, bullshitting with him, seeing him at almost every jazz performance I went to.
Other people were closer to him, and there’s a set of reminiscence at ArtNet that tell you so much about the man. What I would say is that you should read his poetry and his books:
He was excellent in an earthy, street-wise way that is so hard to find now in contemporary poetry. And listen to him too: this album he made with David Liebman is great, and here is an extensive set with Federico Ughi that was recorded at the Knitting Factory in 2002:
I'm a writer and editor here (musician otherwise), with bylines in The Wire, Down Beat, New York Classical Review, VAN, Music & Literature, Grove Dictionary of American Music, Signal to Noise, and many others. I'm also the Music Editor at the Brooklyn Rail. Contact me for any of your word needs.